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Today is national Chocolate Day!

It’s also Milton Hershey’s birthday.

Imagine that?

Hershey was an American confectioner who later became a philanthropist.  He founded the Hershey Chocolate Company and the town of Hershey, PA.

In 1883, he borrowed money and started the Lancaster Caramel Company in Lancaster, PA.  It was huge success.

Again, imagine that?

He used the caramel recipe to make candy and learned caramels sold better in bulk, so he became a bulk provider.

One order to a visiting Brit was so large; the profit from it enabled Hershey to pay off his debt.

By 1891 the company was so successful it employed over 1,300 people.

While at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago he became interested in chocolate.

Knowing it would be an even bigger hit, he sold the Caramel Company for one million dollars and started making Chocolate.

He bought 30 acres of farmland near Derry Township some 30 miles northwest of Lancaster.  The location was perfect since he could easily get the large quantities of milk he would need to make milk chocolate.

Chocolate at that time was a luxury; Hershey was determined to make it affordable to the American public.

Trial and error paved the way to success, and the Hershey bar was first produced in 1900.  Kisses arrived in 1907!

In March of 1902 he began building the worlds’ largest chocolate manufacturing company.  Completed in 1905, it used the latest mass production techniques and Hershey’s milk chocolate became the first nationally marked product of its kind.

With the success of the factory, workers started building nearby, churches were built, schools, and business sprang UP, and Hershey, PA was born!

Back in 1898, Hershey married Kitty Sweeney from New York whom he met at a candy shop!

They were unable to have children, and decided that since they had no kids to spend their money on they would help others, especially orphans.

Kitty died in 1915, Hershey never remarried, and transferred most of his assets to the Milton Hershey School Trust fund which benefited the Hershey Industrial School.

The Trust holds the majority shares of the company which allows it control of the company, the school, and the Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company which owns Hershey Park and other properties.

In the 1930s, he set UP the M. S. Hershey Foundation which provides educational and cultural opportunities to the resident of Hershey PA.  It funds the museum, the gardens, the theater and the community archives.

He also funded the Hershey Medical Center at Penn State, a teaching hospital with an endowment of $50 million.

During WW II, he supplied the US Army with chocolate bars.

He retired in 1944, and one year later at the age of 88, he died of pneumonia at the Hershey Hospital.

There’s a statue there of Milton Hershey with an orphan boy wrapped in his arms.

The inscription says, “His deeds are his monument. His life is our inspiration.”

Indeed!

Happy National Chocolate Day, please feel free to feel less guilt as you chow down on a chocolate bar today!

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